Background: Previous experimental investigations have suggested that guaraná (Paullinia cupana Kunth, supplied by EMBRAPA Oriental) consumption is associated with a lower prevalence of cardiovascular metabolic diseases and has positive effects on lipid metabolism, mainly related to low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. As LDL oxidation is an important initial event in the development of atherosclerosis, we performed in vitro and in vivo studies to observe the potential effects of guaraná on LDL and serum oxidation.
Methods: The in vivo protocol was performed using blood samples from 42 healthy elderly subjects who habitually ingested guaraná (GI) or never ingested guaraná (NG). The formation of conjugated dienes (CDs) was analyzed from serum samples. The in vitro protocols were performed using LDL obtained from 3 healthy, non-fasted, normolipidemic voluntary donors who did not habitually ingest guaraná in their diets. The LDL samples were exposed to 5 different guaraná concentrations (0.05, 0.1, 0.5, 1, and 5 μg/mL).
Results: GI subjects demonstrated lower LDL oxidation than did NG subjects (reduction of 27%, p < 0.0014), independent of other variables. In the GI group the total polyphenols was positively associated with LDL levels. Also, guaraná demonstrated a high antioxidant activity in vitro, mainly at concentrations of 1 and 5 μg/mL, demonstrated by suppression of CDs and TBARS productions, tryptophan destruction and high TRAP activity.
Conclusions: Guaraná, similar to other foods rich in caffeine and catechins such as green tea, has some effect on LDL oxidation that could partially explain the protective effects of this food in cardiometabolic diseases.